2004 | 111 | 4 | 83-107
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From the History of Exporting Propaganda. The Comintern and the War against Poland (1920)

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The presented article deals with Comintern propaganda and, more precisely, its involvement in the Polish-Soviet war of 1919-1920. At the first founding congress of the Third International, held in Moscow on 2-6 March 1919, the Polish motif was almost absent despite the fact that Polish-Soviet armed hostilities had been taking place from the beginning of 1919. The question of war against Poland, according to the interpretation proposed by Comintern propaganda, became more marked at the beginning of 1920 when the so-called peace campaign was being conducted in Soviet Russia (it started at the end of 1919). The peace rhetoric addressed to Europe, exhausted with the war effort, had great chances for finding a favourably inclined audience. As Georgiy Chicherin, the People's Commissar of Foreign Affairs, postulated in a note intended for Lenin (February 1920), it was necessary to blame the Polish government for the eventual outbreak of the war. In face of the threat posed to Polish sovereignty, Józef Pilsudski decided to carry out an attack anticipating the Red Army offensive. Soviet propaganda reacted violently.The appeals addressed to the West enjoined the French, English, Italian and German workers to organise strikes and demonstrations in defence of Soviet Russia, while the railway workers and dockers were asked to refuse to load cargo intended for Poland (not only weapons but also food). The appeals proved to be extremely effective. The Second Comintern Congress which debated in Petrograd and Moscow on 19 July - 7 August 1920, at the time of the greatest Red Army successes in the war against Poland, established a diametrically centralised structure - the 'general staff of the world revolution'. Agitation and propaganda relating to Polish issues included the recurring slogan: 'Long live Soviet Poland!' and the source material confirms that the massive strike movements in the West, carried out in defence of Soviet Russia, were inspired, financed and even steered by Moscow. They were supplemented by a press campaign carried out by the communist 'Daily Herald'. An indubitable achievement of Soviet propaganda was the fact that it won over a considerable part of Western public opinion as regards the thesis about Polish imperialism..
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  • A. J. Leinwand, Instytut Historii PAN, ul.Rynek Starego Miasta 29/31, 00-272 Warszawa, Poland
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